One and a half years ago the Lord spoke to my heart to write a book. As I sat with Him and talked about how to even begin He made it clear that I was to write my story, that I was to name the book Climbing Out of the Box, from religion to relationship, and that he would show me what to do with it when it was completed. I wonder when others write books do they ever feel like it is completed. But I now feel ready to start putting it out there for you to share in my journey and to perhaps find help or comfort as you navigate through similar journeys of your own. The Lord also told me at that time of direction that I was to talk to Wayne Jacobson for further direction upon completion of the book. At the time I had no idea how I would ‘talk’ to such a well know author, (He Loves Me, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, The Shack) and teacher as Wayne. A few months after I had completed the book I contacted Wayne via email and to my surprise he answered right away. To make a long story short Wayne and Sara ultimately came right to our home to conduct wonderful talks with other brothers and sisters in Christ who were interested in Wayne’s teachings. I simply could not believe that not only did God tell me to talk to Wayne, He brought him directly to me. Out of that meeting Wayne suggested that I start posting my book on a blog to see what kind of interest it inspires in the comments I receive back on the blog. Since publishing a book costs quite a large sum of money and at the moment this is totally a faith walk financially, and I am trusting God to provide supernaturally in the funding of this project, I have felt that sharing it this way is a good beginning.
I encourage you to please give me your comments below after reading the chapters. It is very encouraging when I can receive from you as well. Also please sign up on the blog for monthly alerts as to when the next chapter will be posted. Happy reading!!
CLIMBING OUT OF THE BOX
From Religion to Relationship
By Dixie Diamanti
Chapter One: THE SELF APPOINTED JUDGE
What do you do on the day your life changes forever?
My dogmatic and judgmental ways started years before that fateful life changing day. I was just so blinded to it all. I was the leader among Pharisees, bound by legalism, and very rigid. My life had slowly evolved into a set of rules and regulations that I could not possibly live up to. How did I ever get to that place? Looking back on my life my spiritual vision has cleared up somewhat and I now see how I got there.
Religion fit right in with my need to control my environment through perfectionism by its rigidity and rules. I functioned best by rules. I not only lived by the rules but judged everyone else who didn’t live the same way. I forced the rules on my kids. I was totally unaware. I thought life was all about being religious and , in my estimation, that was what a devout Christian was. In my self-righteous ways coupled with my need to be in control I was in denial of my past. While operating in this dogmatism there were issues from my past that I had never dealt with and I was totally in the dark as to what was going on in my life. I thought it was all good.
I always had a heart for God; having had the influence of a Grandpa who was a preacher of the old time religion sort– hell fire and brimstone. I spent every summer with my grandparents from four years old until I was sixteen. I knew Grandpa Dick loved Jesus. I thought he was the closest man to God in the entire bible, even, probably, Moses.
My grandparents lived in the country down by an old river bed. Grandpa would often disappear for days on end. Grandma would say he was down in the river bed praying to God. It seemed to me that when he would come up out of that river his face glowed with the glory of God. I was always dying to know what he encountered down there with God–and what God told him. Did the angels come visit him? Did he see Jesus? Did he sleep? Or was he caught up in visions? Did he eat locusts like John the Baptist in the wilderness?
Sometimes he would tell me some of the things he saw while praying and sometimes he would tell me it was too sacred to talk about. But when he did tell me about an experience he would preface it with an admonition that he was sharing with me in strictest confidence because it was sacred ground. I felt very important to my Grandpa. I had an inside line with God as long as Grandpa was including me in his revelations. I just knew that if I stuck with him, I would make it into heaven. So, I became his shadow and followed him everywhere. I would comb his hair for hours and make him big icy glasses of sweetened tea after a day of hard work in the sun. He was a highway man by trade and would come home from a 103 degree day and there I would be to greet him with his tea and a hug.
There was an old bed they kept out in my grandparents yard which, as a child, I thought was the best thing ever. Grandpa, Grandma, my little brother and I would sleep outside under the stars in the summer. We’d tell stories about Jesus and Grandpa’s home in Oklahoma. I would hear about the old cabin they lived in and how they washed their bodies and clothes in the ol’ creek every night and how they ate squirrel and rabbit they caught and cooked over an open flame. Grandma, as a young girl, had given birth at home to twin boys and a little girl. All had died at birth or soon after. Grandpa would talk about the chiggers that would bite you if you ventured into the Oklahoma woods. We would wake up in the mornings wet from the dew that covered us in the night smelling blanket musty, but happy as clams.
My Grandma Mabel loved Jesus too–even though she played honky-tonk piano and sang old time religion songs with her deep gravelly voice, chain-smoked unfiltered Camel cigarettes, and gossiped about the church folks. I can hear her raspy voice telling me how she thought it was fun to sit up playing cards all night while drinking coffee so strong it would practically stand on its own. I would try to sit up and play cards and games with her but eventually succumbed to sleep. She had friends that loved her funny ways and would sit up all night with her and play, smoke, and drink coffee. I would sit and listen to Grandma regale church folks with the latest juicy pieces of gossip about some other poor soul whom she judged to be doomed if they didn’t straighten up their act according to her Gospel. I heard many a woman called a “Jezebel” because she wore a lot of red lipstick and, God forbid, “trousers” instead of a God fearing modest dress with sleeves. Showing your arms could cause men to lust after you she would self righteously tell me.
That was one side of Grandma. She also had a heart of gold. I recall people coming to her house with a need and leaving with her washer and dryer or her refrigerator, or even a dress out of her closet. I would go home at the end of each summer with a suitcase full of new clothes for school. I suspected this was why my little brother and I were sent off every summer to live with her and Grandpa. As it turned out, those summers were welcomed reprieves for me to escape my home life of fear, abuse and insecurity. And however dysfunctional it was, I knew Grandma and Grandpa loved me and I felt safe with them. Plus they introduced me to a God that I became intrigued with for many years before I came to know Him personally.
Back in the early days, as a child with Grandpa, I would pray every night and talk to God. I actually felt like He was my friend and loved me. This was probably because Grandpa always loved me just the way I was. I remember, as a little girl, feeling that Jesus knew exactly where I was in life and that He understood my every heart ache and didn’t judge me. Jesus was my survival. I realize that now—many years later, even though I had not yet met Him with understanding. No one had ever explained to me how simple it was to receive Him into my life and actually know He is there. So my childhood was spent begging Jesus to save me. From what, I didn’t know. I just knew I didn’t want to go to hell. I guess that is what I was asking him to save me from. I knew I had to meet the criteria to be saved though I wasn’t sure what it was. I would ask Grandpa how to get saved. He would say that I would know when it happened. I would sit in Grandpa’s old country church and study the people who would go down to the altar to get saved. I watched carefully and finally thought I had it down. They would go down and fall on their knees and cry for a long time. Everyone who gathered around that person would start yelling that they had ‘it’ and everyone rejoiced and clapped because the person was now saved. Then the newly saved person would jump up and lift their hands to heaven and dramatically thank God for saving their soul, and cry some more, and then everyone would clap.
Ol’ Lizzie, the church Holy Ghost dancer would clomp around in her old lady shoes, in a Holy Ghost trance, dancing and bumping into walls and stomping on a few feet as well. Everyone would move out of her way as if God would knock them down if they “quenched” the spirit moving in her. I thought she would knock down the pictures of Jesus solemnly praying in the Garden as she repeatedly fell into the walls but she never did. The Holy Ghost kept that from happening I was sure. This was my child’s eye view of it all.
Grandma and Grandpa had built their little church from the ground up. As I shared earlier, he preached and she played the piano for some 25 years to a congregation of farmers and oil workers. They were well loved in their little community of farmers.